Our Chef Council is responsible for all the delicious recipes you see on the menu each week. Phoebe Lapine is one of the creative epicureans we work with to create new and exciting dishes for you to make! Read our exclusive interview with her for a glimpse into her life and source of inspiration as a New York City chef.
As a child, Phoebe Lapine had no idea she would grow up to become a chef. All the signs were there, however: at age 7, Lapine began Phoebe’s restaurant at her grandparent’s home every summer. Though much of the food was “a disaster”, she eventually honed in on a few good dishes.
It also helps that she grew up with an informal mentor, Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), who was her father’s best friend from high school. For her father’s 50th birthday, Lapine recalled helping Garten make a simple meal for 15 of his friends, assisting with appetizers and helping frost the cake.
Whatever led her to becoming a chef, we’re just glad she did! Read on for our exclusive interview with this lovely chef:
Q: Who or what is behind your culinary inspiration?
A: Ina Garten is definitely one of my influencers. She taught me that entertaining shouldn’t be overly complicated; it should be simple and fun.
I love to travel – I’ve been to Thailand, Spain, Morocco, France and Argentina. Mediterranean flavors influence me a lot – my mom lived in that region in her twenties, so I grew up with those flavors.
Q: What’s the best dish you’ve ever made?
A: There’s a great recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine that’s in my cookbook – that’s always a winner. I’m not a showstopper type chef – I like really comforting, healthy dishes that you can make every day. That’s definitely one of them.
Q: What’s the best cooking advice you’ve received?
A: Keep a garbage bowl – the idea of keeping your prep table clean. If you keep just compostable scraps in your freezer, you can compost them once a month.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an amateur chef?
A: Don’t listen to your instincts. When you’re searing things with hot oil, your instinct is to drop it from far – but it could splatter. If you’re close, that’s less likely to happen.
Q: What are the three tools you can’t live without while cooking a meal?
A: A chef’s knife, tongs, and a zester. You can do pretty much anything with a chef’s knife. Tongs are a great multi-use tool for tossing things in a mixing bowl. A zester helps bring out flavor in things like lemon and garlic.
Chef Challenge: Make breakfast. It’s such a quick and easy meal of the day, and it’s a great time to experiment because half the time you’re just making it for yourself.
– Pareesha Narang